Los Angeles Angels
1. Hank Conger: Sporting an exceptional bat for a backstop, Conger is one of the best catching prospects in baseball. The Angels hope that his defense continues to improve with experience and that his injury history is a thing of the past. Both questions are holding him back.
2. Trevor Reckling: Reckling has an impressive repertoire that separates him from the average pitcher, which the rest of his game reminds me of. His velocity is average and probably topped out, but with increased control of his entire arsenal he could become a No. 2 starter.
3. Mike Trout: Trout has athleticism in spades, leading me to believe that his speed will be an asset going forward and his defensive abilities will shine in center field. I’m not fully buying into his bat potential, however. Right now his power projects to be above average at best for a center fielder. He has obvious room to grow, though.
4. Randal Grichuk: His bat is undisciplined and littered with holes, and his defense may be a liability when all is said and done. But Grichuk’s power potential is eye-popping, and I’m buying into it.
5. Jordan Walden: Walden is a one-trick pony right now, his enviable fastball being the one trick. His overall repertoire and lack of control were exposed during his brief Texas League run in 2009. His injury history is also worrisome, but I can cautiously overlook his faults for the time being. He has ace potential, but it’s drying up quickly. A breakout 2010 could be in the works, and such a campaign would catapult him to the top of many Top 100 lists.
6. Peter Bourjos: Bourjos brings plenty of speed and defense to the ballpark, and his consistent swing continues to impress. But he needs to take more walks if he is going to flourish in the majors, as his lack of power has become apparent. If everything works out right, the top of the order is in his future.
7. Garrett Richards: Richards has the stuff aces are made of, and it looks like his control and mechanics, his two biggest weaknesses, have immediately taken giant leaps forward since turning pro. I’m somewhat skeptical and want to see him duplicate his success at higher levels before investing further.
8. Chris Pettit: While he will never be a star, Pettit projects as a solid all-around corner outfielder. He has the workable power, speed and contact skills necessary to be a major league mainstay.
9. Fabio Martinez: I have not seen Martinez pitch, but everything I read about him is positive. Whether it’s a short write-up about his velocity or a blurb about his tenacity on the mound, he has opened eyes. I, of course, would like to see him at a higher level before I buy in any further.
10. Tyler Skaggs: Every bit of Skaggs is based on projection. He has a lanky frame that will support more weight, meaning more velocity, and he has a few unpolished secondary offerings to work with.
Tough cut: Will Smith
1. Brett Wallace: Wallace doesn’t have huge upside, but his bat is as close to a sure thing as you will find. He could be a consistent 30-homer threat, but even if he doesn’t quite reach that potential he looks to me like a guy who will flirt with a .300 batting average annually.
2. Chris Carter: Carter is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Wallace. He could become an All-Star, but the holes in his swing and, at times, lack of patience could hinder his potential in the majors. Watch to see if his approach and plate discipline take the next step. Then we can all firmly back Carter’s corner.
3. Grant Green: Coming into the 2009 draft, I felt that Green was perhaps the most sure-thing shortstop I had seen in a couple of years, which I still believe. But I also felt that he didn’t have as much upside in his bat as your typical first-round college shortstop.
4. Jemile Weeks: His potential for power and speed is a rare commodity from a second baseman. Every aspect of his game needs to take a major step forward before his stock matches his first-round draft status, though.
5. Michael Ynoa: Oakland played it safe with Ynoa’s sore elbow, which was the smart move. Before the injury, word was getting around that the sky-high scouting reports from 2008 were largely true. While it was a lost season, it’s good to know that the hype is somewhat justified.
6. Grant Desme: Desme has had a cult following among A’s fans ever since he was drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft. For a center fielder he has plus power potential, but his bat is littered with holes that need to be filled if he is going to succeed next year when facing Double-A competition. His speed gets too much hype as well. I like him because there is still room to grow.
7. Adrian Cardenas: As a strong backer of Cardenas for a few years now, I have been waiting for his home run power potential to breed results. It hasn’t happened. I still like him as an overall hitter, but his All-Star potential has taken a serious hit.
8. Aaron Cunningham: Cunningham is another prospect with a decent power/speed combination. But judging by both his minor league numbers and brief major league debut, he needs time to clean up his plate approach and adjust to the elite breaking stuff he is facing. His upside is still as an above-average major league outfielder, but it’s time to show those flashes against the big boys.
9. Max Stassi: Despite his average arm, Stassi is a legit catcher. His bat doesn’t offer anything exciting yet, but, for his age, he brings consistency and an above-average approach to the plate. Oakland does think his bat has power potential, however. We will see. He’s on my radar screen.
10. Sean Doolittle: Doolittle’s future is dependent on how much power he has to offer, which I am becoming more and more skeptical of. He may simply need to have a full, healthy season, but his upside, at this point, looks like nothing more than an average corner outfielder.